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About Kristian Coates Ulrichsen

Kristian Coates Ulrichsen is a Research Fellow at Rice University's Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston and an Associate Fellow at Chatham House in London. His work includes The Logistics and Politics of the British Campaigns in the Middle East (Palgrave, 2010), Insecure Gulf: The End of Certainty and the Transition to the Post-Oil Era (Hurst & Co, 2011) and he was co-editor with David Held of The Transformation of the Gulf: Politics, Economics and the Global Order (2011). His forthcoming book, Qatar and the Arab Spring, will be published by Hurst & Co in summer 2014.

Articles by Kristian Coates Ulrichsen

This week’s front page editor

Rosemary Bechler is a mainsite editor of openDemocracy

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The Arab Spring and the changing balance of global power

From an empirical-analytical point of view, what has happened in the Middle East and North Africa since Mohammed Bouazizi died? This is not an opinion piece, but an assessment of underlying factors which have put pressure on the aspiration for justice and political reform launched by the Arab Spring. (5,000 words) 

The Gulf States and Syria

The protracted uprising in Syria has frustrated the Gulf States' previous ability to exert a decisive influence over the revolutions of the Arab Spring. As routes to aiding the opposition become increasingly complicated, will they lose their seat at the table in a future settlement?

The UAE: holding back the tide

As a deeply-tribal and largely homogeneous society that has also engaged heavily both in state-branding and institutional partnerships in recent years, the security crackdown in the UAE holds particular resonance, calling into question the judgement of international institutions that bought into the benevolent ‘images’ so carefully promoted by ruling elites.

(Not Quite a) Postcard from Bahrain

On 1 March the Bahraini government requested that the UN special rapporteur on torture delay his visit – meant to investigate the allegations of torture uncovered in the BICI report – from March to July…

Post-BICI Bahrain: between reform and stagnation

As the first anniversary of the February 14 uprising approaches, the regime and the country at large find themselves at a crossroads in which there is dangerously little space for a strong middle ground.

Wars of Decline: Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya

This article assesses the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya in terms of their legality, their consequences - local, regional and global - and their impact. It describes the growing impotence of western powers in reshaping global politics by force. Rather, it argues, the flawed application of organised violence as a tool in the defence and projection of western power has dissolved the grandiose project of the ‘American century.’

The Arab 1989 revisited

The establishment and deepening of a democratic culture is a long-term project and is intergenerational. As divisions open up between the elites and the street as well as within the elites, the events of 2011 across the Middle East and North Africa represent a powerful first step in a larger process of transformation.

Gulf States: studious silence falls on Arab Spring

New demands for political reform in the Gulf are meeting a repressive response by regimes especially panicked when pro-democracy protests swell into cross-sectarian movements for meaningful political reform. This brutality polarises opinion between advocates of reform and proponents of repression. It also poses a dilemma for western policy makers in their engagement with their strategic partners in the region.

Qatar and the Arab Spring

Why has Qatar experienced such a different trajectory to much of the rest of the Arab world in recent months? What explains its recent actions, and how might it emerge from the Arab Spring?

Bahrain: evolution or revolution?

With its oil reserves measured in years rather than decades and facing the imminent yet difficult transition to a post-oil economy, Bahrainis simply cannot afford another wasted ten-year cycle of partial reform and renewed repression. Major unrest in the Gulf States is altering their self-projection as global actors and oases of stability in an otherwise insecure region. In this context, the Bahraini government’s lethal response to peaceful demonstrators inflicted immense damage on its international credibility

The Arab 1989?

The uprisings sweeping across the Middle East portend a political transformation as significant as those of 1989. The economic stagnation of the region, the failures of corrupt and repressive autocratic regimes, conjoined with a disenchanted youthful population wired together as never before, have triggered a political struggle few anticipated. Yet 1989 is not an entirely clear point of reference - the emergence of peaceful mass movements of change is a parallel, but the pull of the West, so marked in 1989, is weaker and more complex. Accordingly, the path ahead for these brave, inspiring, challenging movements is more uncertain.

Yemen: canary in the coal mine

Yemen is a sign of what can go wrong when a country fails to develop political legitimacy and build a sustainable, productive non-oil economy. What kind of augury is this contested transition for the Gulf states and for the world?

Bahrain on the edge

The politics of a small Persian Gulf kingdom do not usually reverberate far beyond its borders. But an accumulation of social tensions and rights violations in Bahrain gives its coming election a rare international importance, say Christopher M Davidson & Kristian Coates-Ulrichsen.
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